• Camped at Dartmoor Recreation Reserve on Tuesday

  • Drove to Mount Gambier

  • Blue Lake

  • Drove to Princess Margaret Rose Cave

  • Evening Meal at Restaurant at Dartmoor

  • Camped overnight at Dartmoor Recreation Reserve on Tuesday



Day 42


Tuesday 29th December 2009

Click on the pictures for larger versions

  The times normally shown are Queensland times.
I left my camera settings as they were.
Daylight Saving Time,
SA was 30 mins ahead.
Victoria was 60 mins ahead.
To show the times we had to contend with on this day, I showed all times.
When I was planning this trip, I always had in my mind that the "turning home" point would be Mt Gambier.
I wanted to see the Blue Lake.
The morning was clear and blue and it was only 60km or so to Mt Gambier from Dartmoor, so we headed for South Australia.
It was a pleasant drive and very little traffic, so I was able to take in the surroundings. The caravan was left behind at the campsite as well, which meant driving was a lot easier.
As we neared the SA / VIC border, I noticed a sign saying "
Princess Margaret Rose Caves". I said to Jude that if we had time, maybe we'd have a look on the way back.
We drove into
Mt Gambier and the feel was similar to being in Queensland, very friendly.
As we hadn't had breakfast, we looked around and
Hungry Jacks turned up. Surprise!! :)
9.56am - QLD
10.26am - SA
10.56am - VIC
9.57am - QLD
10.27am - SA
10.57am - VIC

9.57am - QLD
10.27am - SA
10.57am - VIC
Commercial Street East, Mt Gambier, South Australia
Mount Gambier CBD Mount Gambier CBD Mount Gambier CBD
After a really relaxing and enjoyable breakfast, we drove around the streets of Mt Gambier.
We came across the sign below.
  11.48am - QLD
12.18pm - SA
12.48am - VIC
  Engelbrecht Cave - Mount Gambier  
I drove around the block to the entrance to see what it was about. After reading the story we decided to pay the money and have a look.

Here is the link to their website.

Information from the above site - 28th December 2013 :


Engelbrecht Cave was formed in Gambier Limestone by the process of chemical dissolution. The Limestone itself was formed some 35-45 million years ago. At Engelbrecht Cave, the thickness of the Limestone is some 100 metres.

The topsoil surrounding the cave is volcanic in origin. Dates of the last eruption vary from 2,800 – 26,000 years ago. Ground level is 41 metres above sea level and the water level at the viewing platform and throughout the cave system is 12 metres above sea level.

In 1864 this Cave on North Terrace (now Jubilee Hwy West) was explored by four young men in a canoe and their story written in 1933 makes interesting reading of a hazardous adventure. Dr Edward Wehl, the pioneer, built a canoe of hardwood sealed with pitch, and the intrepid four, John Stratford, Charlie Brad, Albert Grosser and 10-year-old Charlie Grosser set off to explore the underground waters of the Cave. The canoe was quickly caught in a fast running current and carried along about 200 yards in the direction of the Blue Lake, the stream taking several turn. The current was strong and the young canoeists had difficulty in retracing their course over the fast running waterway.
Some years ago this Cave was closed to the public. it could be re-opened and made into a tourist attraction – it has the potential.
Taken from “Mount Gambier – The City Around A Cave” by Les R. Hill, 1972

Mr Carl Engelbrecht, a German emigrant, arrived in Australia in 1857. In 1885 he purchased Dr Wehl’s old Flour Mill and converted it into a Whiskey Distillery. Mr Engelbrecht used the cave for dumping of waste products – ‘slimpers’ and bottles. There is still much evidence of broken bottles.

In 1964, the City Council invited investigations for tourist potential of the cave. One local diver and three divers from Adelaide, including the well-known Dave Burchell made an exploratory dive. After digging their way through 100 years of rubbish and entering a dark muddy tunnel, a relatively small lake was discovered with a very silty floor, which was only 17 feet deep. Their report to the council was not suitable for tourist development.

In 1979, there was renewed interest and the Lions Club of Mount Gambier decide to make it their project of beautifying the cave. The cleaning and landscaping took three years and $10,000. The finished project was then handed back to the council.

In 2012, the tour operators, with help from the City Council, decided to remove the overgrown weeds and ivy, with the aim of re-vegetating the area with plants indigenous to the area.

11.48am - QLD
12.18pm - SA
12.48pm - VIC
12.02pm - QLD
12.32pm - SA
1.02pm - VIC
12.13pm - QLD
12.43pm - SA
1.13pm - VIC
Engelbrecht Cave - Mount Gambier Gary Colquhoun - Engelbrecht Cave - Mount Gambier Engelbrecht Cave - Mount Gambier - Entrance
12.14pm - QLD
12.44pm - SA
1.14pm - VIC
  12.17pm - QLD
12.47pm - SA
1.17pm - VIC
Engelbrecht Cave - Mount Gambier - Entrance   Engelbrecht Cave - Mount Gambier - Entrance
12.21pm - QLD
12.51pm - SA
1.21pm - VIC
  12.22pm - QLD
12.52pm - SA
1.22pm - VIC
Engelbrecht Cave - Mount Gambier   Judy Daft - Engelbrecht Cave - Mount Gambier
  12.25pm - QLD
12.55pm - SA
1.25pm - VIC
  Engelbrecht Cave - Mount Gambier  
Sorry to say, I wasn't overly impressed with the cave.


We explored more of Mt Gambier streets and eventually came across a sign to the Blue Lake

It truly is blue!! Very blue.

Blue Lake - Mount Gambier

Information from the above site :



Situated in one of three extinct volcanic craters, the Blue Lake exposes the crystal clear water that has filtered underground through the limestone, passing slowly beneath the city. 

Each year in November the lake starts its colour change from winter steel blue to brilliant turquoise blue and then in March changes back to steel blue. 

With average depths of 70 metres, the lake contains 36,000 million litres (ML). It is the source of water to the city 3,500 ML is pumped annually from the lake into holding tanks which gravity feed water to the city and surrounds. No swimming or diving is permitted. 

The Blue Lake and the Crater Lakes area is a significant site within the Kanawinka Geopark and is a State Heritage Area.
1.12pm - QLD
1.42pm - SA
2.12pm - VIC
1.14pm - QLD
1.44pm - SA
2.14pm - VIC
1.13pm - QLD
1.43pm - SA
2.13pm - VIC
Blue Lake - Mount Gambier Blue Lake - Mount Gambier Blue Lake - Mount Gambier
  1.15pm - QLD
1.45pm - SA
2.15pm - VIC
  Blue Lake - Mount Gambier  
1.13pm - QLD
1.43pm - SA
2.13pm - VIC
  1.17pm - QLD
1.47pm - SA
2.17pm - VIC
Blue Lake - Mount Gambier   Gary Colquhoun - Blue Lake - Mount Gambier

Looking at maps, I could see there was a way we could go to the caves I had seen the sign indicating, without going over the path we took to Mt Gambier.
I realized the last tour was at 4.30pm Victoria time and found the drive was 34mins drive from Mt Gambier. Maybe so, but not in the Daihatsu Delta.
We arrived just in time.
Poor Jude was puffing from the walk up to the entrance from the car park, but we made it just as they were about to head off on the last tour.
The trip to see them was well worthwhile.
I was really impressed.
I had only seen Hastings Caves in Tasmania in 1974 and wasn't impressed with them, especially after the long, winding road to them.
Maybe they are better now.
Maybe the Jenolan Caves were to be better, but we were to see them on the way home.

Princess Margaret Rose Caves

Information from the above site :

The Cave
Mr K. McEachern and Mr J. Hutchesson and his sons Alan & Bernie, first explored the cave in 1936.The original entrance was a 17m vertical shaft, as visitor access was restricted a stairwell had to be dug through the limestone, this stairwell took Keith and Bunny 5 years to dig. They developed the cave as a tourist attraction with “Bunny" Hutchesson acting as the first permanent guide, conducting tours from 4th January 1941. Since 1980, the cave has been part of the Lower Glenelg National Park.

Most limestone caves are formed by water seeping down through cracks and fault lines in the limestone, dissolving the rock and creating fissures and tunnels. The formation of Princess Margaret Rose Cave, however, was assisted by water from the Glenelg River which worked its way along a fault line for approx 500m. This occurred above its present height. The water scalloped the walls of the cave and wore a reasonably level floor.

Rainwater, as it seeps from the surface, acts as a weak acid to dissolve the limestone, producing a solution of calcium bicarbonate. When this reaches the air of the cave, carbon dioxide is released and calcium carbonate is deposited in the form of calcite crystals. 
These crystals make up the diverse and spectacular formations of the cave. 
The different colours are caused by tannins and minerals washed down by rainwater from overlying soil. 

stalactite As the solution drips from the cave roof, deposited carbonate is left adhering and a stalactite is formed. Straws or tubular stalactites are long, thin hollow stalactites with a solution flowing down inside the centre.
Solution dripping from a stalactite builds a stalagmite from the cave floor. If a stalactite and stalagmite join they form a column and if that thickens it becomes a pillar. Flow stone formations are caused by water flowing over the walls leaving a smooth surface. Other formations at the roof line are shawls, blankets and bacons. The shapes and colours of these narrow formations are accurately described by their names.

Perhaps the most unusual formations in the cave are the helictites. 
Defying gravity, these long, thin formations grow in all different directions. No one is certain how they form, but the commonly accepted theory is that they begin on crystals and are shaped by surface tensions and capillary action.

Other mysterious formations in the Princess Margaret Rose Cave is the rarely seen cave coral, rimstone pools and sawtoothed shawls.  


  3.52pm - QLD
4.22pm - SA
4.52pm - VIC
  Princess Margaret Rose Cave  
3.53pm - QLD
4.23pm - SA
4.53pm - VIC
  3.55pm - QLD
4.25pm - SA
4.55pm - VIC
Princess Margaret Rose Cave   Princess Margaret Rose Cave
3.55pm - QLD
4.25pm - SA
4.55pm - VIC
3.56pm - QLD
4.26pm - SA
4.56pm - VIC
4.00pm -QLD
4.30pm - SA
5.00pm - VIC
Princess Margaret Rose Cave Princess Margaret Rose Cave Princess Margaret Rose Cave
  3.59pm - QLD
4.29pm - SA
4.59pm - VIC
  Princess Margaret Rose Cave  
4.01pm - QLD
4.31pm - SA
5.01pm - VIC
4.02pm - QLD
4.32pm - SA
5.02pm - VIC
4.02pm - QLD
4.32pm - SA
5.02pm - VIC
Princess Margaret Rose Cave - Original Access Hole Princess Margaret Rose Cave Princess Margaret Rose Cave
4.08pm - QLD
4.38pm - SA
5.08pm - VIC
4.11pm - QLD
4.41pm - SA
5.11pm - VIC
4.14pm - QLD
4.44pm - SA
5.14pm - VIC
Princess Margaret Rose Cave Gary Colquhoun - Princess Margaret Rose Cave Princess Margaret Rose Cave
  4.12pm - QLD
4.42pm - SA
5.12pm - VIC
  Princess Margaret Rose Cave - Ceiling  
4.17pm - QLD
4.47pm - SA
5.17pm - VIC
4.19pm - QLD
4.49pm - SA
5.19pm - VIC
4.20pm - QLD
4.50pm - SA
5.20pm - VIC
Princess Margaret Rose Cave Princess Margaret Rose Cave Princess Margaret Rose Cave
4.22pm - QLD
4.52pm - SA
5.22pm - VIC
4.23pm - QLD
4.53pm - SA
5.23pm - VIC
4.27pm - QLD
4.57pm - SA
5.27pm - VIC
Princess Margaret Rose Cave Princess Margaret Rose Cave Princess Margaret Rose Cave - Ceiling
4.27pm - QLD
4.57pm - SA
5.27pm - VIC
  4.33pm - QLD
5.03pm - SA
5.33pm - VIC
Princess Margaret Rose Cave - Ceiling   Princess Margaret Rose Cave - Ceiling


The trip home to Dartmoor was a very tortuous one, through reafforestation areas on dirt roads, but we made it with no problems.

As we drove into Dartmoor we noticed the hotel had a restaurant.
I called in and asked the owner if the restaurant was going to be open. It was, so we went back to the caravan, had a shower in our great shower tent, dressed up and had a great meal in AIR CONDITIONING as the weather had turned very hot and still.

After our meal, we went back to the caravan to the dogs and sat in the heat.
Judy had to use the toilet facilities in the dark. Some grub had left shit all over the seat.
There was no light as you'd expect in a free camping site, so I had to hold a torch for her.
Not impressed with some people's grubby habits!




Last Updated : 28/12/2013 05:29 PM +1000